The Most Popular North Carolina Beaches This Summer

Fact Checked by Thomas Leary

With schools letting out around the country and summer nearly here, it’s time to start thinking about the beach., your home to everything North Carolina sports betting, has done the thinking for you with a list of the 10 North Carolina beaches most fans of sand and surf are eager to visit.

At No. 1 is Nags Head, around 200 miles east of Raleigh on the outer banks. It’s a skinny strip of an island – its narrowest point is barely wider than the length of a football field – that has the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds to its west. Nags Head has nearly 12 miles of shoreline, featuring the highest sand dunes in the east, great views, plus some of the Outer Banks’ best restaurants. Also, dogs are allowed on the beach.

At No. 2 is Emerald Isle. While most Carolina beaches go north-south, Emerald Isle goes east-west. It’s a town on the western half of Bogue Banks Island – No. 8 Atlantic Beach is on the eastern half. Emerald Isle also features about 12 miles of shoreline on what’s called North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, because of the crystal-clear water. The Crystal Coast is comprised of 85 miles of shoreline on what’s considered the Southern Outer Banks.

Carolina Beach comes it No. 3. This beach is a 20-minute drive south of Wilmington, along the Cape Fear River. If you’re tired of the sun and shaking sand out of your cracks, Carolina Beach State Park is known for the Flytrap Trail, a boardwalk and amusement rides. 

Most Search Interest of North Carolina Beaches (Past 90 Days)

Weighted Rank Beach County Search Interest (vs. other topics) over past 90 days
1Nags Head Dare69
2 Emerald Isle Carteret67
3 Carolina Beach New Hanover66
4 Oak Island Brunswick64
5Topsail Beach Pender61
6 Wrightsville Beach New Hanover58
7Corolla Currituck53
8 Atlantic Beach Carteret52
9 Duck Dare50
10Kitty Hawk Dare49

Oak Island, Topsail and Wrightsville Crack Top 10

In at No. 4 is Oak Island. It features 10 miles of beaches on the south side of the state, separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. More of a small town feel than a beach resort feel, but also good for fishing and seafood.

Topsail Beach hits the five-spot. Northeast of Wilmington and south of Surf City, Topsail Beach sits at the southern end of the 26-mile Topsail Island. Keeping the beach and surround property beautiful and environmentally sound is a top priority for the small year-round community whose population increases five-fold in tourist season.

Rounding out the Top 10 are Wrightsville Beach, Corolla, Atlantic Beach, Duck and Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk is north of Nags Head. Further north is Duck and even further north on the same island is Corolla. Corolla tends to be less crowded because you’ve got to really want to get there. There’s not a ton of access. 

Wrightsville Beach is east of Wilmington and one of the most popular spots for North Carolina day-trippers because of its convenience and weather. Plus there’s lots to do. We recommend a cold one at Lagerheads Tavern after a dip in the ocean. 

We hope you enjoyed this piece from BetCarolina, and remember we'll soon be home to the best North Carolina sports betting promos as the state moves towards full legislation.

Methodology used U.S. News & World Report’s “Best North Carolina Beaches” list as a starting point to see which beaches to use in our research. We then utilized Google Trends to gather the search interest of each beach listed in their report over the past 90 days to finalize the Top 10 beaches that people are looking to visit in NC.  


Howard Gensler
Journalists / Reporter

Howard Gensler is a veteran journalist covering the North Carolina sports betting market for Before his focus on US sports betting, Howard worked at the Philadelphia Daily News, TV Guide and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Howard is also a founding editor of

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